Marching to his own beat

Marching to his own beat

Spanish artiste

Marching to his own beat

When one picks up an instrument at the age of two, you know they have found their calling. Aleix Tobias is a well-known name in the field of percussion and his experiments with this have resulted in worldwide collaborations, over 100 albums and a deeper understanding of the rhythms and techniques of traditional drumming.

The Spanish Percussionist will conduct a workshop in the city on April 22 and will present a concert titled ‘Bangalore to Barcelona’ along with Amrit Nataraj and Frijo Francis at Bartender on April 23. In between a packed schedule, he chats with Rajitha Menon about the world of drums and Indian music.

What drew you to the world of percussion?

When I was two or three years old, I was attracted to drums though I can’t say why. I come from a non-musical family but I always wanted to play this instrument. As a kid, I would keep listening to an album of Billie Cobham that my mother had though I did not know who he was at that time.

What sets apart traditional drumming from what we hear these days?

We can see all kinds of sets these days because creativity has broken all barriers. Percussionists are playing like drummers; boundaries  between instruments are being merged. We can put in everything we think will sound good in a piece, unlike traditional forms of music where rules are strict.

Tell us a bit about your project ‘Coetus’...

‘Coetus’ is an Iberian percussion orchestra. In the peninsula, most of the traditional percussion music is played by just one person, usually a woman. The idea of ‘Coetus’ is to put all these instruments together and showcase the percussion sound of the place.

Are people responsive to such performances?

Yes, very much. Our approach is to present our tradition in a modern vision and people have been appreciating it a lot.

What can be done to preserve dying arts?

Take the essence of such arts and actualise it. Creating new compositions in olden styles will help rekindle the interest of people in such traditions.

Which has been your favourite venue so far?

The small ones, where you can feel close to the people.

Thoughts about Indian music...

Indian music is one of the biggest musical systems in the world. It is a deep structure and I hope it will be reached and learned in the conservatories around the world.

Future plans?

Practice, record Coetus’s new album, explore solo performances deeply, work on some ideas I have in mind, enjoy, learn and play with musicians around the world.